There is not a shortage of concern in terms of the conditions persisting among the Church of God circles today. I too find myself particularly burdened regarding the widespread confusion, division, and suffering. Simply, the reason for it is simple, Christ is on the outside of his church and knocking to gain entrance (Revelation 3:20). Christ agrees to come in if anyone will hear his voice. Who is actually hearing the message - the voice of Christ speaking to the Church? The message is not “unity at any cost,” or that we should simply ignore our differences, agree to disagree, and simply accept unconditional fellowship. The message is that the Church of God needs to buy gold, open their eyes, and put on the robes of righteousness through repentance. Finally, the Church of God must open the door to Christ and allow the head of the Church to assume his proper role. The fruit of the seventh seal results from disallowing Christ’s control and authority over his Church.
What is A Fellowship?
The word “fellowship” is a noun - though sometimes used as a verb, and among the Church of God circles it is used to identify a person’s association. Another word commonly used is “groups.” The “no neck-tie” group is an example that would answer a question for someone inquiring about an association of someone from a Church of God camp. Buzzwords could include: “Danny Layne,” “Restoration,” “Faith and Victory,” “no exception,” “exception,” “Wilderness people,” one-cleansing,” “Anderson,” “Southern Brethren,” and doubtless many more. Essentially, these are various groups or fellowships identifying the Church of God camps. Perhaps a better word is sects because they bear more of the identifying characteristics of Protestantism than they do the beautiful bride of Christ witnessed by John.
It is of no surprise that so many denominations/fellowships/groups/sects of the Church of God exist, as this is the obvious result when the headship of the Church is missing.
Which Fellowship is Right?
Each of these fellowships bear the qualities of a system ruled by men rather than an organic body ruled by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. During controversy, these fellowships resort to politics and diplomatic posturing. They will defend the guilty and punish the innocent. They will operate without full transparency and accountability. They will ignore the gargantuan problems among them, make excuses for obtaining less than biblical results in areas of sound conversion, sanctification, healing, and glory in themselves rather than exalt Christ. God never intended for his people to divide into various fellowships and exist in a scattered condition. Christ spilled his blood for the Church of God so that the redeemed could dwell in perfect unity walking in all the light of God’s Word.
What Do I Do if I Find Myself in A Fellowship?
I would like to present a few thoughts by Daniel Warner. In the book, Birth of A Reformation, A.L. Byers presents some thoughts from the pen of the revered reformer. Warner is responding to some thoughts presented from a paper called the Christian Harvester. The author of this paper acknowledges the evils of sectarianism but argues they are a present necessity. Here is a portion of the article,
“1. God has a church on earth. It is one and indivisible. It is made up of all and singular who are born of the Spirit.
2. Individual (local) churches, or congregations, are as Scriptural as they are necessary.
3. There is not one word in the Bible favorable to denominations or sects. The only sect among Christians that is spoken of in terms—the Nicolaitan—is severely condemned. There are indications of sectish belief, against which John is supposed to labor in the first chapter of his Gospel, and Paul withstood in the Judaizing tendencies, even in a brother apostle.
Denominations are directly or indirectly the result of sin remaining in the great body of professors. Thorough and wide-spread holiness would soon destroy denominations.
4. But the evangelical denominations of today contain the mass of true Christians, with a multitude of mere professors. Because of differences sects cannot yet be abolished; and an effort at abolition would result in a new one. Therefore sects are a present necessity, until holiness more generally prevails.
5. The possessor of perfect love of necessity overleaps denominations in spirit, and so regards all the sanctified as perfectly his brethren.”
I would like special attention paid to point number four as I believe many would argue a similar line for the Church of God groups.
Here is Daniel Warner’s response,
“We are personally acquainted with the editor of the Harvester, and believe him a holy man of God. We admire the frankness with which he acknowledges that “there is not one word in the Bible favorable to denominations or sects,” and that “denominations are directly or indirectly the result of sin remaining in the great body of professors.”
Such must be the honest verdict of every intelligent, God-fearing man. It is no pleasant thing, we know, to look upon and admit this monster evil, this fell destroyer of the purity, love, and power of the Lord’s Zion … But for the love of truth I am constrained to differ with the position that sects are a present necessity. They originated from sin in the church; and shall we admit that the fruit of sin is a necessity under any circumstances? ‘Shall we do evil that good may come? God forbid.’”
Warner believed that the editor of the Harvester was a “holy man of God,” however he found that his love for truth caused him to disagree respectfully. Sects, or fellowships, are the fruit of sin and therefore fellowships can only continue producing sin.
Dear reader, therefore you must leave a fellowship. Fellowships result from sin and it will find you a partaker of sin by your refusal to leave.
Is Coming Out of A Fellowship Just Forming Another?
First, God never intended for his church to exist in a divided state. The formation of the various groups results from sin. There is no such thing as forming another fellowship when one takes a stand for the church built by Jesus Christ. Simply, one must flee the Babylonian systems posing under the name Church of God and stand for the Church for which Jesus shed his blood.
Second, allow Brother Warner to impart some wisdom.
“But it is thought that we should not fight against sects nor attempt to abolish the evil at present, lest we thereby form another sect. This is virtually saying we should go on sinning, ‘lest a worse thing come upon us!’”
“An attempt to rally Israel under any of the many party names and creeds might indeed result in a new sect. But this is not what we contend for. Nay, [b]ut let us rather burn to ashes these high places of Israel’s corruption and, returning to Jerusalem , [L]et us build ‘upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.’ Let us abandon the nonsense of ecclesiastical succession; cease to inflate our pride and vanity by parading the good and long-since departed, who innocently wore our party badges—the piety of our fathers will not atone for the worldliness of the church at present. Let us also quit flourishing our church creeds as though their excellency were an essential supplement to the wisdom of inspiration. Let us, we pray you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sake of our holy and divine religion and a world that is lost in sin—oh, let us put away these childish things, and return to Jerusalem, not to form a new sect, but as the ‘servants of the God of heaven and earth let us build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great King of Israel [Jesus Christ] builded and set up’ (see Ezra 5:11).”
A Few Points to Note
The possibility of forming another fellowship does not justify the existence of fellowships.
Neither does the former possibility stand as a justifiable reason to stay in a fellowship.
Though others have formed more groups and failed or fell short of the apostolic standard, does not mean one should not come out or is justified for failing to do so.
We are not contending for a group, but we are contending to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with the cornerstone being Christ.
Fellowships initially began well. Our fathers innocently held onto a fellowship or a group. However, as Warner states, it does “not atone for the worldliness of the church at present.” In fact, he says to “cease the pride and vanity by parading the good and long-since departed.”
Finally, I know we do not follow a man. I am not quoting D.S. Warner because I believe him infallible. I am simply presenting some truths by a generally well-respected saint of God.
Saints Desire Fellowship with Saints
The writer can honestly express a love for all saints and a strong desire for fellowship with each one. Any who may state that the writer does not want fellowship is sadly mistaken, misinformed, and misguided. It is my humble prayer that God unites his people together so that we may all worship in spirit and truth. It is time for the family of God to reject their fellowships and their leaders and come together in the unity of the Spirit while sitting under a divinely called, sent, and anointed ministry. It is my aim and desire to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints until we all may sit at the feet of Jesus around the throne of God.
If there are questions, comments, or concerns along these lines, or along any lines concerning the writer, please contact us: